If I listen to the news 24 hours a day (or even through one cycle), it seems the world is coming to an end in the face of a deadly rampant apocalyptic virus. While this is not true, of course, we are faced with a new strain of virus for which, right now, we don’t have a vaccine. So, that is a bit unnerving, and vulnerable populations are especially at risk.
To read a full report on COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and travel, click here.
Image source: A coronavirus cross-section. Credit: Scientific Animations/CC BY-SA 4.0
We are not powerless.
We know the ways to protect ourselves, in the same ways we have done to avoid the flu:
- wash hands thoroughly for 20 seconds using soap and water;
- use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol content or higher;
- avoid infecting others by staying home,
- coughing into your elbow,
- wearing a face mask to not spread droplets;
- don’t touch your face and eyes.
Should “Don’t travel” be on this list?
Absolutely not. At least, be wise about WHERE you travel, and the WAY you travel.
How can you determine where it is safe to travel while trying to avoid getting sick?
Ok, THAT was never a guarantee to any traveling; it is why travel insurance is an important component to any trip- at least the kind that includes coverage for illness and emergency medical or dental care. You should find a policy that gives you the most inclusive coverage- and don’t just rely on your credit card’s coverage if it is not enough. It is a good idea to have a travel advisor help you compare different policies for the coverage you need. Don’t assume policies cover everything- epidemics are one of the things that is never covered by travel insurance. To completely cancel a trip for ANY reason, you need to upgrade in your policy to Cancel For Any Reason within a required period of first payment or deposit towards your trip. So that is probably the #1 reason to have a travel advisor to advocate for you in the face of losing your travel investment should you decide not to risk it.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
So, in today’s current situation, a good source to check for your travels currently booked and for upcoming vacation time is the CDC site.
It lists travel advisory levels, 1-4, for countries.
Level 1 means take the ordinary precautions you would with any travel.
Level 2 means practice enhanced precautions. This means, take those healthy practices more seriously and diligently. That means you have to have a yellow fever shot if going to or through Nigeria, for instance, or to make sure you have proof of your MMR shot when going to Japan, which is currently experiencing an outbreak, or taking your malaria prophylactic when there is travel advice to do so.
Level 3 means avoid nonessential travel. (Note: it does NOT mean the country has closed its borders and your will be stuck there and prevented from leaving- unless you exhibit signs of illness and test positive for the coronavirus.)
So let’s talk about that.
China has experienced the worst of the outbreak, and in the beginning, did not set a protocol to contain it. This happens when something is new, and whatever motivations a government has.
Right now, there is no travel into or out of China, for the most part. Iran has experienced a concerning spike, so there is reason to be concerned there, and travel to and from is curtailed.
But there is reason for some level of common sense.
If a country such as Italy is listed as a level 3, does this mean don’t go there under any circumstances?
No. Italy is a great example of how a health system works to its people’s benefit. Italy reported a spike in coronavirus cases BECAUSE it instituted widespread testing; of over 300,000 tested, it found about 300 cases in small towns in the Lombardy and Veneto regions. And these they immediately and strictly quarantined. A few other places experienced finding people in 1s and 2s who were infected, and those have now been treated and recovered. But what happened? The Level 2 and then Level 3 CDC travel warning became a siren call in the news and then in travelers’ minds, and Italy is experiencing a direct hit to their economy as some travelers cancel their trips. The lower demand has caused some airlines to cancel flights to Milan first, and now some other cities. Other smaller airlines have canceled scheduled departures to other cities in Italy, not because there is infection there, but because demand has dropped off- the case of supply and demand. It stinks for all the other unaffected areas and regions of Italy to be an innocent bystander. Economic repercussions are already being felt.
And Italy regions and transportation are not taking things lightly.
Here, for instance, is what is happening in Tuscany, where nothing is currently closed:
“Tuscany Region guarantees its constant collaboration with the national health authorities and with the regional health offices, who are on the alert and continuously kept informed with regards to operational updates and guidelines codified at national level.
The situation is being constantly monitored by the local health authorities, who can guarantee the sanitary control of Tuscany via the adoption of actions and measures specifically geared towards prevention. Daily disinfection of regional trains and all local public transport has been intensified. In Tuscany’s airports, public spaces are being sanitized on a regular basis and hand wash dispensers are available across the terminals.”
WHAT IS HAPPENING TO TRAVEL ADVISORS?
Are they going to die out now?
Well the smart and valuable ones are not. We both see the impact of reduced travel, and empathize with those who are worried about their travels. WE are, most importantly, advocates for our clients and prospective clients, not travel sellers (unlike online booking sources or crowdsourcing sites, which cannot help clients the way a person with legitimate contacts can). Our true value is recognized now more than ever as we stand with and for our clients.
What have I been doing?
In the past 3 weeks:
- I have first, educated myself on all regions to which my current clients are traveling in the immediate future, so this means up through May and into the summer.
- When asked by clients about the effects in their travel plans, I have taken the time to research in depth my clients’ situations, talked to my partners who are supporting their journeys. In some cases, this has reassured the traveler, and they are going to go on their journeys. In others, the decided to preemptively cancel their trips. But, rather than have them lose their money in nonrefundable payments, it was my advocacy on their behalf to my treasured partners that allowed my clients’ investments to be saved in postponement of travel, not total cancelation.
- I have monitored all flights clients have booked through me as well as their travel plans to see if anything needed to be adjusted.
- And I have worked with my existing clients, past clients, and future prospective clients on way to plan smartly for the future.
Because “this, too, shall pass”.
People who are curtailing travel plans now are going to be eager to go-go-go soon when this virus has been eradicated and a vaccine exists for the most vulnerable. And, with someone in your corner to watch trends in pricing, this can work to your financial and experiential advantage- plainly speaking, your investments in travel can be maximized.
So, what can YOU do now?
If you are playing it cautious, talk to me about your “staycation”, or traveling in the USA.
Level 1 Countries Travel Plans
Talk to me about Level 1 countries to visit that may have been on your “someday” bucket list, but can be done now.
Future Travel Plans
And, most importantly, PLAN FOR YOUR FUTURE TRAVELS NOW. Let’s have a serious conversation about where you’d like to go and things it is important to you to experience. There is a smart system you can have literally at your fingertips to sketch it all out for you to have a roadmap and portfolio for you and any travel companions you want to join you.
Please take this time to ask me how– there is NO BETTER TIME TO PLAN FOR TRAVEL THAN RIGHT NOW, for once I know what you are looking for, I can keep watch to take advantage of any special pricing and other travel aspects to come your way- what a great way to save time AND money!
If you’d like to have more ease in your travel planning in 2020, I’d love to help!
You can stay informed and inspired in planning your travel by reading more of my blogs. You can also follow me on Facebook. Twitter @enlitndjrntrvl, and Instagram @enlightenedjourneystravel. Sign up to receive the blogs and a newsletter filled with more insights and offers so you don’t miss a thing.